Note: I have to apologize for Week 8. What a disaster. My picks went 6-7, but the most important ones were 0-4. The only Double Money Pick I felt I was cheated on was St. Louis. The Rams were up 14-0 with Steven Jackson, but fell apart with him out. Aside from that, terrible. Vegas had a horrible week as well. Road favorites went 5-0, which never happens. With that in mind, expect to see a lot of shady lines this week, as Vegas larcenously attempts to recoup some of their money. If you don't quite understand the line, total or anything else, go to my Sports Betting FAQ.

Arizona Cardinals (4-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4)
Line: Buccaneers by 3.5. Total: 38.

Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 8): Buccaneers -7.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 8): Buccaneers -4.5.
Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

The Game. Edge: None.
Injuries: CARDINALS: OUT: QB Matt Leinart, OT Oliver Ross. BUCCANEERS: OUT: RB Cadillac Williams, RB Michael Pittman, OT Luke Petitgout, DE Patrick Chukwurah, CB Torrie Cox.

What to do when a Pacific team plays on the Atlantic Coast? We have two such situations this week (49ers at Falcons). A wise move would be to fade the visitor every single time; after all, waking up at 5 a.m. would make coaches like Mike Holmgren so grumpy that they'd want to eat their own ball boys. Fading these great clipboard-holders yields a 28-21 record (57 percent) since 2003, which is actually pretty decent. Considering that includes Art Shell, Norv Turner, Bill Callahan, Dave McGinnis and Dennis Erickson, you would think this trend would be 349,053-0 or something. However, delving further, if you take out Holmgren and Mike Nolan's ineptness (combined 2-12) out of the equation, you would be losing money at 16-19. In the words of Emmitt Smith, "You is gonna lost money!"

Fortunately, the public isn't aware of that, meaning the oddsmaker can spot any home team playing a Pacific Coast squad more points than they deserve. That was the case when Ken Whisenhunt took his Cardinals into Baltimore and Washington. His two offensively challenged opponents were favored by 9 and 8, respectively, and both failed to cover.

So, what does all of this mean? I'm not seeing the Pacific Coast tax. Why is Tampa Bay only favored by 3.5? If you cancel out the aforementioned cushion and Quinn Gray, the oddsmaker is telling us the Cardinals and Jaguars are even. Does that seem right to you? Are the books baiting us into taking the Buccaneers? You bet they are. Check the percentage below.

The Buccaneers are not the same team that crushed New Orleans in Week 2. Actually, excluding that victory, none of Tampa's wins are that impressive. Oh, wow, they beat the Panthers and the Rams. They knocked off the Titans when Vince Young suffered an injury. Big whoop. Yet, the Buccaneers are still highly regarded. They will not be able to run on Arizona, a team that has contained Willie Parker and Clinton Portis to nothing this year. That means Jeff Garcia will have to throw the ball against a pass rush that has accumulated 17 sacks this year. Even if Garcia has time in the pocket, he lacks weapons at running back and receiver to put up tons of points in this contest.

Tampa Bay doesn't have too many defensive weaknesses, but one area they struggle in is defending power running games, thanks to their small defensive front. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, they won't be able to capitalize there; after a hot start, Edgerrin James has slowed down a bit, and is now down to 3.9 yards per carry. If Kurt Warner has to throw all afternoon, Monte Kiffin's pass-rushers will get to him.

I think the Buccaneers will win this game, but I almost have to grab the points, based on my assumption that the oddsmaker is baiting the public into taking the host. As I wrote in the introduction to the Week 9 picks, Vegas may post some shady lines this week in an attempt to recoup all the money they lost last Sunday.

One more tidbit: Excluding the Panthers contest in which Tim Rattay came in for an injured Kurt Warner, the Cardinals have yet to lose by more than 3. Why wouldn't they be able to cover the 3.5?

The Psychology. Edge: Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers lost two games they should have won. They need to rebound to avoid a losing record.

The Vegas. Edge: Cardinals.
I can't see either side garnering much action. The Buccaneers just lost to the Lions and Quinn Gray!
  • Percentage of money on Tampa Bay: 62% (60,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: None.
  • Early Game Alert: Pacific Teams playing on the Atlantic Coast at 1:00 PM are 20-28 ATS since 2002 (Ken Whisenhunt 2-0).
  • Opening Line: Buccaneers -3.5.
  • Opening Total: 36.
  • Weather: Sunny, 79 degrees. Light wind.

    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Joey Galloway.
  • Sit Em: Edgerrin James, Michael Bennett, Earnest Graham.

    Prediction: Buccaneers 20, Cardinals 19
    Cardinals +3.5 (2 Units - Money Pick) -- Incorrect; -$220
    Over 38 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Buccaneers 17, Cardinals 10.

    Carolina Panthers (4-3) at Tennessee Titans (5-2)
    Line: Titans by 4. Total: 36.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 8): Titans -4.5.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 8): Titans -6.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Titans.
    Injuries: PANTHERS: OUT: QB Jake Delhomme. TITANS: OUT: WR David Givens, CB Pacman Jones.

    My college roommate Dennis brought up a good point at a party I hosted on Friday. When I asked him whether he wanted to use Coors Light or Miller Lite for beer pong, he chose the former because it had superior commercials. He liked the Coors Light press conference ads ("They are who we thought they were!") much better than the Miller Lite commish. Like I said a few weeks ago, he seems cool, but he once played a character in a movie who liked Michael Bolton, which is the biggest skeleton to ever hang in anyone's closet. It doesn't even matter that he has a super-hot referee chick standing next to him (the one to his left; not right); liking Michael Bolton should be legally equivalent to quadruple homicide. This man is not to be trusted.

    I don't think you can visit any football forum on the internet and not encounter a thread that reads, "Vince Young is overrated." My own message board has one. It seems like no one likes Young nowadays. I mean, he doesn't put up any pretty stats and struggles a bit on his throws coming off a quad injury. Worst of all, he just wins football games. How bad is that? Imagine a quarterback who did nothing but win. What horrendous player. Someone as cunning as Brian Billick would have the brains to kick him off his team.

    Young is so trashed that he's probably the most underrated player in the NFL. I'll take Young and win a championship before 26 other quarterbacks starting in this league. He's so disrespected that it's going to set up great betting opportunities for us in the future. Just not today. As much as the public dislikes Young, it hates David Carr and Vinny Testaverde even more.

    Excluding a few long passes to Steve Smith, I'm not sure how the Panthers are going to consistently move the chains this week. They won't be able to run the ball at all, as the Titans' top-five stop unit will put the clamps on DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams. Tennessee's pass rush, which has 15 sacks this year, will be foaming at the mouth if either Testaverde or Carr is placed in long-yardage situations.

    Carolina's only hope of hanging around, at least as far as the matchups are concerned, is stuffing LenDale White, Chris Brown and Chris Henry in the backfield. The Panthers are mediocre versus opposing ground attacks (15th), but the Titans are so lethal because Young is always a threat to scramble. If Young's quad is feeling better, he'll be able to torch a secondary ranked 23rd, which gets no help from the defensive front (four sacks).

    Both of these teams are pretty easy to figure out. The Panthers lose as a favorite (1-2 ATS) and win as an underdog (3-1 ATS). Same goes for the Titans (0-2, 4-1 ATS, respectively). Why would I stray from this formula, especially when this seems like another shady line concocted by Vegas not to induce 50-50 betting action?

    The Psychology. Edge: Panthers.
    Possible Look-Ahead Alert for the Titans. They have archrival Jacksonville next week.

    The Vegas. Edge: Panthers.
    The Panthers aren't really a public team, so the Titans could see some cash flow their way.
  • Percentage of money on Tennessee: 85% (63,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: Panthers.
  • Panthers are 25-11 ATS as an underdog the previous 36 instances.
  • Vince Young is 12-6 as a starter (13-5 ATS).
  • Opening Line: Titans -5.
  • Opening Total: 37.
  • Weather: Sunny, 66 degrees. Light wind.

    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Steve Smith.
  • Sit Em: Panthers Defense, Titans Receivers.

    Prediction: Titans 16, Panthers 13
    Panthers +4 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Under 36 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Titans 20, Panthers 7.

    Cincinnati Bengals (2-5) at Buffalo Bills (3-4)
    Line: Bengals by 1. Total: 43.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 8): Bengals -3.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 8): Bengals -1.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: None.
    Injuries: BENGALS: OUT: RB Chris Perry, WR Chris Henry, DE Frostee Rucker, LB Odell Thurman, LB David Pollack, LB Rashad Jeanty. BILLS: OUT: WR Peerless Price, TE Kevin Everett, DE Ryan Denney, LB Paul Posluszny, CB Jason Webster.

    Another commercial I don't get is the one where the old coach with a cane times some kid running to a bus. When the kid nearly misses it, he tells him, "You can do better." The kid trains hard, finally wins at the end and hears his coach tell him that he always believed in him. Cool commercial - except for the fact that despite winning the race, the kid looked as slow as someone running a 20-minute mile. Seriously, watch this commercial carefully. Good job, coach. Your "athlete" just won the race for the slowest people to ever win on this planet.

    Is this another shady line to induce betting to one side? Absolutely! If Vegas wanted equal action on this contest, it would have made the Bengals a 3- or a 4-point favorite. Instead, the Bills are the slimmest of underdogs after they opened up as a short favorite.

    If you like betting underrated teams and fading overrated squads, this is the game for you. The Bills, despite playing one of the most difficult schedules in the league, are 3-4 and more importantly, 5-2 against the spread. They nearly knocked off Denver and Dallas as an underdog. They stayed close to the Steelers until the very end, despite an emotional Kevin Everett-laden week. They were ahead of the Patriots in the second quarter. They beat down the Ravens. And they just went into the Meadowlands and slayed the Jets, which is something they never do. Meanwhile, it seems like the Bengals are in disarray. They're 2-5 and 2-4 against the spread. They lost to the Browns and Chiefs. And it took a comeback to beat the lowly Jets at home.

    Cincinnati's loss to Pittsburgh last week was especially frustrating because Marvin Lewis continuously took the ball out of his offense's hands and put faith in his woeful defense. The unit is 30th against the run, 28th versus the pass and 31st in points allowed. Marshawn Lynch should have a big day, setting up easy passes for either J.P. Losman or Trent Edwards.

    Buffalo's defense, on the other hand, is improving every week. The secondary seems to be getting better because the front four is finally able to get some sort of a push. The Bills still have some issues against the run, but the Bengals can't pound the ball between the tackles anyway. That said, Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh are always lethal. It's going to take a huge effort by the Bills to contain Cincinnati's vaunted aerial attack.

    The Bills seem like the right side to me. I'm playing an underrated squad and fading an overrated one. I'm also going against the public on a week the oddsmaker is almost guaranteed to rake in tons of cash.

    The Psychology. Edge: Bengals.
    I guess you can say this is a Must Win for the Bengals, though they don't seem to be playing hard right now.

    The Vegas. Edge: Bills.
    It's tough to say, but I don't think people buy the Bills as a favorite just yet. That said, I'm not sure if anyone wants a piece of the pathetic Bengals.
  • Percentage of money on Cincinnati: 83% (60,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: Bills.
  • Bills are 21-7 ATS in November home games the previous 28 contests.
  • Opening Line: Bills -3.
  • Opening Total: 43.5.
  • Weather: Rain/snow, 49 degrees. Mild wind, 11 mph.

    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Marshawn Lynch, Lee Evans, Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
  • Sit Em: Kenny Watson, Rudi Johnson, Both Defenses.

    Prediction: Bills 24, Bengals 17
    Bills +1 (3 Units - Money Pick) -- Correct; +$300
    Under 43.5 (2 Units) -- Incorrect; -$220
    Bills 33, Bengals 21.

    Denver Broncos (3-4) at Detroit Lions (5-2)
    Line: Lions by 3. Total: 46.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 8): Pick.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 8): Lions -3.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: None.
    Injuries: BRONCOS: OUT: WR Javon Walker, WR Rod Smith, C Tom Nalen. LIONS: OUT: S Daniel Bullocks.

    In case you missed Channing Crowder's comments, the Dolphins linebacker was seriously shocked to learn people in England speak English, and was relieved that he wouldn't have to get a translator for his trip to Wembley Stadium. He had other dumb comments, including, "I couldn't find London on a map if they didn't have the names of the countries." Wow. This is straight out of Sarah Silverman's "Are you too stupid to be alive" segment on her show, where her bald, gay friend asked the mayor, "Do you think we should increase the environment?" and "What do you think about the foreign policy?"

    At first, I was surprised to see so many people back the Lions (77 percent as of Wednesday morning), but then I thought about how pourous the Broncos looked on Monday night. That includes Champ Bailey and Dre' Bly, both of whom were torched for long touchdowns. I don't think the public realizes that Denver is still sixth versus aerial attacks. That's actually shocking to me, considering how old the safeties are, and how horrendous the pass rush has been. Only one player (Elvis Dumervil) has more than two sacks. The team as a whole only has 14. If Denver can't get to Jon Kitna, he'll have a field day with his wide receivers. Kevin Jones will also have an effective afternoon gashing a Broncos front seven that yields 5.2 yards per carry.

    Luckily for the Broncos, Detroit's defense sucks as well. They're 21st against the run, 30th versus the pass and 25th in points allowed. Travis Henry and Selvin Young will combine for about 200 rushing yards, permitting a much-improved Jay Cutler to play-action into one of the worst secondaries the NFL has to offer. The last team to have the ball may win this game.

    I like Denver for three reasons. First, Shanahan is nearly flawless coming off a Monday night loss. Second, I like going against the public on a week when Vegas is angry and wants to recoup the money it lost the previous Sunday. And finally, call me a skeptic, but I don't completely trust the Lions as a favorite just yet.

    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    The Lions just beat a divisional rival, but the Broncos are a formidable opponent.

    The Vegas. Edge: Broncos.
    I'm not sure if people buy the Lions as a 5-2 squad just yet. Could be lots of action on the dog.
  • Percentage of money on Detroit: 67% (55,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: Broncos.
  • Monday Might: Mike Shanahan is 4-1 ATS after losing a Monday night by less than 17 points.
  • Broncos are 5-10 ATS vs. the NFC since 2003.
  • Lions are 8-15 ATS vs. AFC opponents since 2001.
  • Jon Kitna is 3-8 ATS as a home favorite since 2001.
  • Opening Line: Lions -3.
  • Opening Total: 45.5.
  • Weather: Dome.

    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Both Offenses.
  • Sit Em: Both Defenses.

    Prediction: Broncos 34, Lions 31
    Broncos +3 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Over 46 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Lions 44, Broncos 7.

    Green Bay Packers (6-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-3)
    Line: Chiefs by 2.5. Total: 37.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 8): Pick.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 8): Packers -2.5.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Chiefs.
    Injuries: PACKERS: OUT: RB DeShawn Wynn.

    You know how Vince Vaughn and Jimmy Kimmel made guest appearances in the Monday Night Football booth? What if Emmitt Smith was a guest star during the Packers-Broncos tilt? Hmmm...

    Mike Tirico: Thanks for joining us, Emmitt. Before you speak, let's hear what Tony Kornheiser has to say about this game. Tony Kornheiser: I love Brett Favre. Brett Favre is so courageous. If I could have more children, I'd want Brett Favre to be the father of them. Emmitt Smith: Those is a good point. But when I plays football, everyone respect my wills and my strong. Ron Jaworski: Look at Brett Favre make that throw! Brett Favre is amazing! I studied 100 hours of film on Brett Favre yesterday and I've determined that Brett Favre is a great quarterback. If I were trapped on a deserted island and I could only have one thing, that would be Brett Favre. Kornheiser: Did you say Brett Favre? I love Brett Favre! If I could cheat on my wife with one person, it would be Brett Favre! Emmitt: Did you see that passes? I have make that throws once when we use a trick play against the 49er. I throw the football and Michael Irvin makes difficultly catches in end zone. Kornheiser: Get the hell away from me, Emmitt. I'm trying to watch Brett Favre!

    As for this contest, you know that larceny thing I was talking about earlier? Check out this situation, and let me know if you think it applies. The Chiefs opened as a one-point favorite after Favre dazzled a national audience on Monday night. Seemed shady to me. But the public didn't pounce on the Packers like I thought they would; only about 60 percent took the visiting underdog. In response, the oddsmaker moved this line up to -2. Now, as of Wednesday morning, 73 percent of the public is on the Packers. It wouldn't shock me to see this spread keep rising.

    I don't know who Ryan Grant is, but he looked impressive on Monday night. Then again, anyone can run for 100 yards on the Broncos, who are 31st against opposing ground attacks. The Chiefs aren't the best in that category either, but they are much better than Denver (16th). Assuming Grant can't find any running lanes, Favre will be asked to take matters into his own hands. That was no problem against a Denver defense that has just 14 sacks and ranks 28th in points allowed. Kansas City, meanwhile, has 21 sacks, and is sixth in points and 10th in pass defense.

    The problem the Chiefs are having this year is getting on the scoreboard. Larry Johnson, who is averaging 3.6 yards per carry, has been on and off. Damon Huard is mediocre. Other than Dwayne Bowe, there is no one in Kansas City's secondary that scares me. And the offensive line hasn't done much either (20 sacks allowed). Green Bay's defense is solid, but I was disappointed to see Jay Cutler and Selvin Young have their way against it. If it weren't for a Cutler fumble inside the 2-yard line, Denver may have won. If the Packers can't stop Johnson - Young ran for 71 yards on just 18 carries - Huard will methodically dissect Green Bay's backfield.

    The Packers are coming off an emotional overtime win, and may not be focused for a game that really doesn't mean all that much to them. The Chiefs, disrespected by Emmitt Smith and Steve Young on SportsCenter (see psychology), will be ready. If not, maybe Vegas can do something about it.

    The Psychology. Edge: Chiefs.
    No reason for the Chiefs not to bring 100 percent - especially when hearing Steve Young and Emmitt Smith call this an automatic victory on SportsCenter. The Packers are coming of an Emotional Win.

    The Vegas. Edge: Chiefs.
    The Chiefs are favored? Why? Everyone's just going to bet Green Bay. Is that larceny I smell?
  • Percentage of money on Green Bay: 70% (90,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: None.
  • Bye Bye: Herman Edwards is 5-1 ATS off a bye.
  • Two Roads (Win): Current and '06 head coaches are 78-62 ATS on the road following a road win.
  • Packers are 19-10 ATS after Monday Night Football in the previous 29 instances (0-1 under Mike McCarthy).
  • Opening Line: Chiefs -1.
  • Opening Total: 38.5.
  • Weather: Sunny, 69 degrees. Mild wind, 17 mph.

    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Brett Favre, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Larry Johnson, Dwayne Bowe, Tony Gonzalez.
  • Sit Em: Ryan Grant.

    Prediction: Chiefs 16, Packers 10
    Chiefs -2.5 (2 Units - Money Pick) -- Incorrect; -$220
    Under 37.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Packers 33, Chiefs 22.

    Jacksonville Jaguars (5-2) at New Orleans Saints (3-4)
    Line: Saints by 3.5. Total: 40.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 8): Saints -4.5.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 8): Saints -4.5.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Saints.
    Injuries: JAGUARS: OUT: QB David Garrard*, K Josh Scobee. SAINTS: OUT: RB Deuce McAllister.

    I think I'm contractually obligated to declare that the new NFL Primetime sucks. It wasn't as bad this week, as Merril Hoge was more subdued as usual and didn't yell "factor back" incoherently. Neil Everett, who has nothing to do with the show, didn't sing or spread his boogers around. And I wasn't even annoyed by Mark Schlereth, whose opinion I almost always respect, who went on a tirade regarding New England's running up the score. However, the fact remains that ESPN could film Tom Jackson and Chris Berman doing NFL Primetime and air it Monday morning and afternoon. Instead, TJ and Boom covered only five games on the Blitz. Just five games! They didn't even touch Pittsburgh-Cincinnati or Tampa Bay-Jacksonville! Am I the only one whose blood pressure has risen to 500/200 because of this? At this rate, I'm going to have a heart attack by Week 12 and a stroke by Week 14!

    I honestly don't know where to go with this game. What do we make of the Saints? They sucked for four games, had one good half at Seattle, floundered around at home against the Falcons and blew the doors off the 49ers. Call me crazy, but I'm not a believer just yet. San Francisco sucks. I know it was a blowout victory as a road favorite, but I need to see more. New Orleans can make me trust it if the team wins this weekend. As for the Jaguars, can they really win with Earl Gray Quinn at quarterback?

    Jacksonville's defense gave 200 percent last weekend. They knew they had to with David Garrard out. It's going to take another huge effort Sunday, as Drew Brees is on fire. He was 31-of-39 for 336 yards and four touchdowns at San Francisco last week. However, unlike the 49ers, the Jaguars can actually get to the quarterback. They have 19 sacks on the year, as opposed to San Francisco's 12. Jacksonville will rattle Brees, who won't have the support of a rushing attack; Reggie Bush will have a difficult time running through the wide bodies of John Henderson and Marcus Stroud.

    The Jaguars will run the ball. Then, they'll run some more. And after that, they'll keep running. Then, Earl Gray Quinn will drop back in the pocket and run downfield. A one-dimensional offense like this won't be effective against the Steelers, Titans or Patriots, but the Saints won't be able to handle it, right? Well, that's what I thought too until I looked at the numbers. Did you know New Orleans is sixth versus opposing ground attacks? That's insane. If Gray actually has to throw the ball, I'm not too confident in Jacksonville's chances.

    As I said, I'm not sure where I'm going here. However, I do know one thing. The Saints suck as a home favorite. Fading them in that situation since 2001 would give you a 23-9 record against the spread. You can live on an island playing systems and trends that hit 71.9 percent of the time like that one.

    The Psychology. Edge: Saints.
    Tough game between two tough squads. The Saints just saw Earl Gray Quinn beat archrival Tampa Bay, so I doubt they'll underestimate him.

    The Vegas. Edge: Jaguars.
    I'm not sure if anyone is sold on Earl Gray Quinn yet. The Saints are hot, so the public may bet them as a short favorite.
  • Percentage of money on Jacksonville: 60% (69,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: Jaguars.
  • Two Roads (Loss): Current and '06 head coaches are 92-66 ATS on the road following a road loss (Jack Del Rio 4-2).
  • Crappy Quarterback: Quinn Gray is 1-0 ATS on the road.
  • Jaguars are 6-2 ATS as an underdog since 2006.
  • Saints are 16-33 ATS at home since 2001.
  • Saints are 9-23 ATS as a home favorite since 2001.
  • Drew Brees is 16-6 ATS off back-to-back wins.
  • Opening Line: Saints -3.5.
  • Opening Total: 40.
  • Weather: Dome.

    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Jaguars Defense, Marques Colston.
  • Sit Em: Jaguars Offense, Reggie Bush.

    Prediction: Saints 12, Jaguars 9
    Jaguars +3.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Under 40 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Saints 41, Jaguars 24.

    San Diego Chargers (4-3) at Minnesota Vikings (2-5)
    Line: Chargers by 7.5. Total: 41.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 8): Chargers -3.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 8): Chargers -3.5.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Chargers.

    Anyone wonder where Aaron Brooks has been this year? I mean, the Jaguars just signed Todd Bouman. The Panthers are going with Vinny Testaverde. The Vikings are deciding between Kelly Holcomb, Tarvaris Jackson and Brooks Bollinger. Where is Brooks, besides, you know, underachieving while watching TV at home? Well, apparently he's being blackballed. Brooks recently said that he has been shunned by the NFL in the wake of his negative comments toward the league's involvement in the whole Hurricane Katrina situation. This has nothing to do, apparently, with the fact that Brooks really sucks. So, how exactly does one underachieve while watching TV? I guarantee that when Brooks' significant other expects him to change the channel, he just sits there and fumbles the remote. FOX should make a comedy where this happens for an entire half hour.

    I'll get into why I love the Vikings in a second. First, a quick look at how the matchups will work out. The Vikings excel at stopping the run, but simply cannot get to the quarterback or contain the pass. I think they'll handle LaDainian Tomlinson in terms of rushing yards, but Philip Rivers should be able to torch them all afternoon. Minnesota, on the other hand, won't score nearly as much. Adrian Peterson will be bottled up by the league's 13th-ranked unit against the run, which will undoubtedly stack the line of scrimmage and force Holcomb/Jackson/Bollinger to beat them aerially. Won't happen.

    But everyone knows that. If picking games were that easy, every gambler would be rich and Vegas would go out of business. Betting football is all about finding spots, and I'm going to tell you why this is a great one for Minnesota.

    Take a look at whom the Chargers play after the Vikings. No, not just the Colts. They have Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Baltimore, Tennessee, AFC West-leading Kansas City, 5-2 Detroit and archrival Denver following this "gimme" game. This is San Diego's last easy battle for a very long time. Not only will they be unfocused for lowly Minnesota, they'll also be preparing for their tough road ahead. And yes, there is precedent for this. In 2002, the Chargers were 6-1 and considered one of the best teams in the NFL. They had a contest against the 2-5 Jets (record sound familiar?), in which they were home favorites of 8.5. Following their tilt with New York, the Chargers had the Rams, 49ers, Dolphins, Broncos and Raiders, all of which were really good teams at the time. Not only did San Diego lose, the team was blown out, 44-13.

    I do like Minnesota for another reason. Thanks to a solid defense, the team has no bad losses this year. Their defeats have been by 3 (at Detroit), 3 (at Kansas City, a team that beat San Diego on the road), 7 (vs. Green Bay), 7 (vs. Philadelphia) and 10 (at Dallas). The loss to the Cowboys was aided by a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown.

    So, if you bet on the Chargers this week, you're taking an unfocused team that has played just two solid games this year, battling another that has lost only one of its five games by the spread you need. You're also going with 99 percent of the public (as of Tuesday afternoon). Good luck with all that.

    The Psychology. Edge: Vikings.
    Major Breather Alert! Check out whom San Diego plays after this: Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Baltimore, Tennessee, division-leader Kansas City, 5-2 Detroit and Denver. Wow. I can't see them being focused on this game.

    The Vegas. Edge: Vikings.
    I've had three people come up to me on Monday and tell me they like the Chargers without even knowing what the spread was.
  • Percentage of money on San Diego: 98% (111,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: None.
  • Opening Line: Chargers -7.
  • Opening Total: 41.
  • Weather: Dome.

    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: LaDainian Tomlinson, Both Defenses.
  • Sit Em: Vikings Receivers, Philip Rivers.

    Prediction: Chargers 19, Vikings 16
    Vikings +7.5 (5 Units - Double Money Pick) -- Correct; +$500
    Under 41.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Vikings 35, Chargers 17.

    San Francisco 49ers (2-5) at Atlanta Falcons (1-6)
    Line: Falcons by 3. Total: 37.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 8): Falcons -1.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 8): Falcons -3.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: None.
    Injuries: 49ERS: OUT: DE/OLB Manny Lawson. FALCONS: OUT: QB Michael Vick.

    It's time for more grammar lessons from Emmitt Smith! If you want to repeat a grade in school, use these on your next quiz!

    1. "What else can you say about a defense that get together?" (Commentary: I don't know, what else can you says?)
    2. "You have new offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator." (Commentary: Russians don't use articles in their language. Is Emmitt Russian?)
    3. "And when defense felt my will, it was a total different game then." (Commentary: Scoring touchdowns? Easy. Using adverbs? Impossible.)

    I think this game comes down to whom you dislike more than whom you like. So, let's list reasons why we can't take either side. Starting with the host, how can anyone justify laying three points with a 1-6 team? Sure, the Falcons have kept things close this year. They covered at New Orleans and Tennessee. They came within a touchdown of knocking off Carolina and Jacksonville. But that's a lot different than actually beating someone. The 49ers' defense was exposed by the Saints last week, but Atlanta doesn't have the same weapons New Orleans does. Joey Harrington is very mediocre, Warrick Dunn is old, Alge Crumpler drops dozens of passes every game and Roddy White is the only receiver actually doing anything.

    On the other hand, I can't really suggest taking the visitor either. Remember the opening paragraph of the Buccaneers-Cardinals game, when I mentioned Pacific teams playing early games on the East Coast? Well, San Francisco falls under the inept category; Mike Nolan is 1-4 on the number when playing across the country. San Francisco's offense is anemic; the line can't block, the receivers can't catch a cold and Alex Smith looks like he has regressed to rookie form.

    When it comes down to it, I simply cannot play Nolan in an early game on the Atlantic Coast. The Falcons actually won a battle by 10 about a month ago, so maybe history will repeat itself.

    The Psychology. Edge: Falcons.
    I think both of these teams can't wait until 2008. At least the Falcons are playing hard - they nearly took down New Orleans two weeks ago.

    The Vegas. Edge: Falcons.
    I don't think anyone wants to bet on this game. Equal action?
  • Percentage of money on San Francisco: 62% (45,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: Falcons.
  • Early Game Alert: Pacific Teams playing on the Atlantic Coast at 1:00 PM are 20-28 ATS since 2002 (Mike Nolan 1-4).
  • Opening Line: Falcons -3.
  • Opening Total: 37.
  • Weather: Dome.

    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Frank Gore, Roddy White.
  • Sit Em: Warrick Dunn, Jerious Norwood.

    Prediction: Falcons 24, 49ers 17
    Falcons -3 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Over 37 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Falcons 20, 49ers 16.

    Washington Redskins (4-3) at New York Jets (1-7)
    Line: Redskins by 3.5. Total: 35.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 8): Redskins -3.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 8): Redskins -3.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Redskins.
    Injuries: REDSKINS: OUT: OT Jon Jansen. JETS: OUT: LB Jonathan Vilma.

    While watching Chad Pennington struggle against the Bills, I thought of five people the Jets would have been better off with at quarterback at the start of the season: 5. Ally McBeal - I covered this on my weekly wrap-up. Ally simply has a stronger arm than Pennington. 4. Pacman Jones - If the Pacman were the starting signal caller, Eric Mangini would have been forced to go with Kellen Clemens much sooner in the wake of the riots and mayhem Pacman caused this offseason. 3. Rex Grossman - Sad, but true. 2. Manny Ramirez - He'd throw a lot of picks, and he probably wouldn't even show up to half the games, but at least he'd be entertaining. 1. "It's the Mirrors!" Girl - I always joke that Pennington throws like an 8-year-old girl. Well, this chick is 10, so she's gotta have double the arm strength of Pennington, right?

    It's not profound to say the Jets are horrible. They can't stop anyone. They're 26th against the pass, 29th in yards allowed and 26th in points surrendered. They only have one sack per game. I'm not sure how this defense was good last year. Luckily for them, the offensively challenged Redskins are strolling into town. After a solid start, Jason Campbell has struggled the past three weeks, compiling only 170 yards per game, throwing three picks to just a pair of touchdowns, and getting sacked seven times. Clinton Portis, who is averaging only 3.8 yards per carry, may have problems finding running lanes; the Jets actually aren't that bad versus the run (14th).

    New York's offense, like its stop unit, has been anemic. That will probably change, as Kellen Clemens has much greater arm strength than Pennington. Clemens' ability to throw downfield and to the sideline will bring the Jets' scoring attack to another level. There's just one problem; Washington's stop unit is really good. The Redskins' eighth-ranked run defense will put the clamps on Thomas Jones, forcing the rookie signal caller into long-yardage situations. Washington has 17 sacks this season, while New York has permitted 20, so that's a major mismatch.

    The Redskins are a solid team, but I don't think they deserve to be road favorites of more than a field goal over anyone. I'm going to play against the public and fade the 3.5, the worst spread in football. Here's to hoping the Jets play inspired football for their new quarterback.

    The Psychology. Edge: Redskins.
    Maybe the Jets will play hard for Kellen Clements. The Redskins will look to rebound off their 52-7 loss, so they could be focused, despite the fact that they have two divisional games coming up.

    The Vegas. Edge: Jets.
    The Redskins will receive a lot of action. Joe Public has given up on the Jets.
  • Percentage of money on Washington: 89% (84,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: Redskins.
  • Two Roads (Loss): Current and '06 head coaches are 92-66 ATS on the road following a road loss (Joe Gibbs 2-1).
  • Jets are 12-25-3 ATS as an underdog the previous 40 instances (5-8 under Eric Mangini).
  • Opening Line: Redskins by 3.
  • Opening Total: 37.
  • Weather: Cloudy, 57 degrees. Light wind.

    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Santana Moss, Chris Cooley.
  • Sit Em: Thomas Jones.

    Prediction: Redskins 17, Jets 14
    Jets +3.5 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Under 35.5 (2 Units) -- Incorrect; -$220
    Redskins 23, Jets 20.

    Seattle Seahawks (4-3) at Cleveland Browns (4-3)
    Line: Browns by 1. Total: 46.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 8): Seahawks -2.5.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 8): Browns -2.5.
    Sunday, 4:05 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Browns.
    Injuries: SEAHAWKS: OUT: DT Marcus Tubbs. BROWNS: OUT: OT Ryan Tucker, C LeCharles Bentley, LB Willie McGinest.

    So, what are my thoughts about having football overseas? A game in London is bad for the guys who actually play. Not only do the athletes have to travel across the pond, they have to endure bad food, jet lag and many people with crooked teeth. However, an NFL contest in London could help people who still harbor ill feelings toward the War of 1812. I never saw them coming!!!! Argh!!!! What...? Oops! Sorry, my anger got the best of me for a second there.

    Take away the London game, and whatever Tom Brady and Randy Moss are doing up in New England, and the story of the year in the NFL is how well Derek Anderson has performed. Anderson, who is 4-2 as a starter, has more touchdowns (17) than Peyton Manning and only eight interceptions. The offensive line is giving him time - he's only been sacked eight times despite the fact that Charlie Frye was sacked five times the first week - Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow have combined for 68 catches, 1,201 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Jamal Lewis has discovered the Fountain of Youth, rumbling for 4.7 yards per carry. After not taking Cleveland seriously for eight weeks, I finally decided to place them in my Top 10. To stop them, Seattle must get to the quarterback. The Seahawks have registered 23 sacks this year, so Cleveland's offensive line will be tested this on Sunday. If it succeeds, Lewis will gash Seattle's 18th-ranked run defense, setting up play-action opportunities for Anderson.

    As well as the Browns are playing offensively, they still have major problems on defense. They have just seven sacks. They're 30th in points allowed. They're 27th against the run. And they're 31st versus the pass. Other than that, their stop unit is doing pretty well! Fortunately for them, Shaun Alexander has become one of the worst running backs in the league, as he seems content on flopping down on the turf if there aren't any running lanes available. Matt Hasselbeck will score enough to keep up with Cleveland, but he may force the issue on occasion because of Alexander's lacking support.

    Everyone I've talked to about this game likes the Browns, but seems concerned that Seattle is coming off a bye. Well, I'm here to tell you that Mike Holmgren is 1-8 against the spread following a week off. Furthermore, the Seahawks, who stink on the road, struggled going into their bye, losing to the Saints at home and getting shut out at Pittsburgh. I'm heavily considering this as my Survivor Pick.

    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    The Browns have the Steelers after this, but they'll be focused for respectable 4-3 Seattle. An odd marquee matchup.

    The Vegas. Edge: Seahawks.
    The Browns are hot, so the average bettor may play them. The Seahawks floundered prior to the bye.
  • Percentage of money on Cleveland: 61% (60,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: Browns.
  • Bye Bye: Mike Holmgren is 1-8 ATS off a bye.
  • Seahawks are 4-8 ATS on the road since 2006.
  • Opening Line: Browns -1.
  • Opening Total: 47.
  • Weather: Showers, 44 degrees. Light wind.

    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Matt Hasselbeck, Bobby Engram, Derek Anderson, Jamal Lewis, Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow Jr.
  • Sit Em: Shaun Alexander, Both Defenses.

    Prediction: Browns 24, Seahawks 20
    Browns -1 (3 Units - Money Pick) -- Correct; +$300
    Under 46.5 (2 Units) -- Incorrect; -$220
    Survivor Pick (8-0)
    Browns 33, Seahawks 30.

    Houston Texans (3-5) at Oakland Raiders (2-5)
    Line: Raiders by 3. Total: 41.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 8): Raiders -2.5.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 8): Raiders -3.
    Sunday, 4:15 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Raiders.
    Injuries: TEXANS: QUESTIONABLE: QB Matt Schaub*, RB Ahman Green*, WR Andre Johnson*, TE Owen Daniels*. RAIDERS: OUT: RB Michael Bush.

    Forget Patriots-Colts! Keyshawn Johnson said that Tom Brady playing the Redskins was a good measuring stick for where he is this season. Call me crazy, but I thought his 27 touchdowns and 7-0 record going into last week's contest was a pretty good indicator. You can listen to more of Keyshawn's opinions on NFL Sunday Countdown, where four analysts and a grammatically challenged individual count down to Sunday every week.

    Fool me once, shame on... shame on... you? Fool me twice... You can't get fooled again! George W. Bush may not be the most eloquent speaker in the world, but he knew what he was talking about when he was stumbling through that statement. It applies to this game. I took the Raiders when they were favored over the Lions. I lost. I picked the Raiders when they were favored over the Browns. I lost again. You figure I would have learned not to take the Raiders when they were favored over the Chiefs. Nope. I lost. Well, I've finally come around. I will not bet on Oakland when it is laying points until it establishes itself as a semi-decent team.

    The Raiders are just too unreliable offensively to be favored over anyone. Daunte Culpepper, who holds the season record for fumbles (23), is capable of coughing the ball at any moment. Oakland's line gives up way too many sacks (22). Culpepper has as many picks (4) as touchdowns. The Texans don't have a good defense, but even they can contain the Raiders. If not, I'm sure Oakland will find some way to beat themselves.

    Oakland gives up twice as many sacks as its defense registers. If you suck at math, that's 11. The Raiders are also dead last against the run. I guess you can say Houston needs all the crappy stats it can go against, because the team could be without Matt Schaub, Ahman Green, Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels this Sunday. I know Oakland'd defense sucks, but how are the Texans going to score? Are Sage Rosenfels, Ron Dayne, Andre Davis and Jacoby Jones good enough to lead them to victory?

    With all of Houston's injuries, it's really tempting to pick Oakland. But as I said in the second paragraph of this write-up, I'm never laying points with the Raiders ever again. I like the Texans coming off back-to-back losses, a situation they've thrived in during their brief existence.

    Friday Morning Update: Josh McCown will start for Oakland. That doesn't change my pick, but it certainly hinders Culpepper's quest for the single-season fumbling record.

    The Psychology. Edge: Texans.
    The Texans were just embarrassed in San Diego. They may have more to play for in this meaningless matchup.

    The Vegas. Edge: None.
    Houston has just lost like 500 games in a row. People will bet Oakland as a favorite.
  • Percentage of money on Oakland: 54% (45,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: Texans.
  • Two Roads (Loss): Current and '06 head coaches are 92-66 ATS on the road following a road loss (Gary Kubiak 3-0).
  • Texans are 21-11 ATS after two or more consecutive losses.
  • Raiders are 6-19 ATS at home the previous 25 instances.
  • Raiders are 7-18 ATS vs. teams with losing records since 2001.
  • Raiders are 0-5 ATS as a favorite since 2006.
  • Opening Line: Raiders -3.
  • Opening Total: 42.
  • Weather: Sunny, 72 degrees. Light wind.

    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Sage Rosenfels, Ron Dayne, Andre Davis, LaMont Jordan, Ronald Curry.
  • Sit Em: Ahman Green (questionable), Andre Johnson (questionable), Both Defenses.

    Prediction: Texans 16, Raiders 13
    Texans +3 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Under 41.5 (.5 Units) -- Correct; +$50
    Texans 24, Raiders 17.

    New England Patriots (8-0) at Indianapolis Colts (7-0)
    Line: Patriots by 5.5. Total: 56.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 8): Patriots -3.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 8): Patriots -4.
    Sunday, 4:15 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Patriots.
    Injuries: PATRIOTS: OUT: WR Troy Brown.

    I've decided to move the Monday Night dissertation to this contest because of its importance in the grand scheme of things. Anyone who doesn't realize how significant this game is knows nothing. The winner of this tilt will most likely receive home-field advantage in the AFC Championship. The last three times the Patriots and Colts battled in the playoffs, the host was victorious and went on to win the Super Bowl. So, barring massive injuries, the winner of this matchup is almost guaranteed another Lombardi Trophy.

    Can the Colts Stop the Patriots? Let me think for a second... No! In two meetings last year, the Patriots scored a combined 54 points on Indianapolis, despite the fact that Tom Brady was throwing to Ricochet Reche Caldwell, Jabar Gaffney and Troy Brown. How will Indianapolis contain an offense that is averaging 41.4 points per game, and has yet to put up less than 34? How will the Colts cover Randy Moss? Even when he's double-teamed, he still makes circus catches. Put three guys on him, and Wes Welker is open all afternoon. Pay attention to him, and Brady will just keep gunning it to Ben Watson and Donte' Stallworth. Drop eight into coverage, and Laurence Maroney will eclipse 150 rushing yards behind the best offensive line in the league. And I haven't even mentioned Mike Vrabel yet...

    Can the Patriots Stop the Colts? A better question. Indianapolis isn't a slouch, averaging 32 points per contest, but it was contained to 22 at Tennessee, so it can be slowed down. Peyton Manning's Achilles' Heel has been his inability to deal with the 3-4 defense. Now, I'm quite aware that he put up 65 in two contests against New England last year, but three things are different this time around. First, Ellis Hobbs, who was a part-time starter in 2006, has really grown up this season, becoming a lock-down corner. Second, Adalius Thomas has been a force in New England. The Patriots didn't have defensive depth last year, and consequently wore down in the second half of their playoff loss at Indianapolis. And finally, rookie Tony Ugoh has replaced Pro Bowler Tarik Glenn at left tackle. Ugoh has played well thus far, but he has yet to go up against the likes of Ty Warren, Richard Seymour, Tedy Bruschi, Thomas and Vrabel.

    Equals in 2006. I sort of made this point, but I didn't really emphasize it. Last year, the Colts and Patriots were equals. In their first meeting, Brady had the opportunity to tie the game, but a tipped pass was picked off near midfield. In the second matchup, New England had complete control of the contest, but lost it when the defense tired and the receivers started dropping balls.

    That won't happen this time. Moss, Welker and Stallworth completely outclass Caldwell, Gaffney and Brown. Thomas, a healthy Rodney Harrison and Randall Gay (both of whom were injured in the playoffs) and rookie Brandon Meriweather will keep the stop unit from getting too exhausted. With all of these additions, New England is a far superior team. The Patriots and the Colts are no longer equals.

    But the Public is Pounding the Pats! I am aware that as of Wednesday afternoon, 93 percent of the public is on New England. That said, look at the line movement. Vegas opened the Patriots up at -4, believing that some bettors would take the defending Super Bowl champion as a home dog. Didn't happen. Seeing all the money flow toward New England, the oddsmaker panicked and increased the line to -5. Didn't help. Now, it's at -5.5. It wouldn't surprise me to see New England laying a touchdown by kickoff. By raising the spread, Vegas wants people to bet the Colts.

    Revenge and Other Stuff. When the Patriots reigned supreme, this rivalry meant everything to Manning and company. Now, in the wake of Indianapolis' Super Bowl victory, the script has flipped. New England wants to claim triple revenge and prove it is the best team in the NFL.

    I'm also a bit weary of Tony Dungy's demeanor. He seems calm and cool, while Brady and Bill Belichick seem serious and angry, almost as if they have something to prove. By running up the score, I think they want to establish themselves as the best team in NFL history.

    Blowout? I'm making this seem like the Patriots are going to destroy the Colts. That could happen. I think Indianapolis will stay within seven or 10 until the fourth quarter. New England may put this game away with a defensive touchdown.

    The Psychology. Edge: Patriots.
    This game means slightly more to the Patriots, for the same reason the Colts had more incentive to win when New England dominated this rivalry in the playoffs.

    The Vegas. Edge: Colts.
    I'm not sure if the public will pound the Patriots because there are a few believers in the Colts. Maybe 70 percent, or something?
  • Percentage of money on New England: 85% (168,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: Patriots.
  • Tom Brady is 90-25 as a starter (74-39 ATS).
  • Tom Brady is 8-1 ATS in domes.
  • Opening Line: Patriots -4.
  • Opening Total: 57.
  • Weather: Dome.

    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte' Stallworth, Ben Watson, Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark.
  • Sit Em: Anyone who misses this game.

    Prediction: Patriots 45, Colts 24
    Patriots -5.5 (5 Units - Double Money Pick) -- Incorrect; -$550
    Over 56.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Patriots 24, Colts 20.

    Dallas Cowboys (6-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)
    Line: Cowboys by 3.5. Total: 46.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 8): Cowboys -3.5.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 8): Cowboys -3.5.
    Sunday, 8:15 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Cowboys.
    Injuries: COWBOYS: OUT: WR Terry Glenn, NT Jason Ferguson, DT Tank Johnson.

    Congratulations to Tony Romo, who just signed a $67.5 million deal over six years. I'm relieved. Now, he can afford to take Carrie Underwood to Applebee's the next time he goes to Buffalo.

    I don't think I've talked to a single person who likes the Eagles. Everyone is on the Cowboys. You don't even have to look at the Vegas, where 99 percent of the public is on the visitor. If you're someone who likes Dallas, let me ask you a question: If the Cowboys are such a better team than Philadelphia, and everyone is betting on them, why is the line only three? Vegas could have made this line six, and people would still be pounding Dallas.

    Let's look at some stats. Run offense: Cowboys are ninth, Eagles are 13th. Run defense: Eagles fifth, Cowboys seventh. Pass defense: Cowboys 13th, Eagles 15th. Sacks: Cowboys 18, Eagles 24. Seems pretty even to me. The one aspect I didn't bring up was passing offense. Romo is clearly better than Donovan McNabb at this stage of their careers, right? And Terrell Owens and Jason Witten obviously outclass Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown. Well, the latter is definitely true, but the former isn't so clear cut. The past three games, McNabb has a higher quarterback rating (91.6) and less interceptions (1) than Romo (76.5 and six).

    And that brings me to another point. The Cowboys haven't played a good game since the first week of October. They should have lost at Buffalo. They were blown out against New England. And, they struggled to distance themselves from Minnesota. Philadelphia also couldn't cut loose from the Vikings, but saying the Cowboys are clearly the better team right now is a mistake.

    One final note. This contest means much more to the Eagles than it does to Dallas. The Cowboys have their most important regular season game next week, as they battle the Giants at the Meadowlands. If they beat New York, it doesn't even matter what happens this Sunday night. Philadelphia, on the other hand, will stop at nothing to slay its archrival. If the Eagles lose to Dallas, they could be three games out of the wild card.

    Wednesday Morning Update: I loved the Eagles and wanted to take them for three or four units, until I found out one of Andy Reid's sons was arrested again this week. I'm bumping this pick down to one unit.

    The Psychology. Edge: Eagles.
    Huge divisional game for the Eagles. Dallas has bigger fish to fry with the Giants next week. Brian Dawkins will be back for a very emotional contest in the City of Brotherly Angst for a Championship.

    The Vegas. Edge: Eagles.
    America's Team on national TV? Are you kidding me?
  • Percentage of money on Dallas: 94% (120,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: None.
  • History: Eagles have won 11 of the last 14 meetings.
  • Tony Romo is 10-6 ATS as a starter.
  • Tony Romo is 5-2 ATS on the road.
  • Eagles are 43-27 ATS vs. NFC opponents since 2001.
  • Eagles are 19-11 ATS vs. NFC East opponents since 2001.
  • Eagles are 12-8 ATS in November since 2001.
  • Opening Line: Cowboys -3.
  • Opening Total: 46.
  • Weather: Cloudy, 46 degrees. Light wind.

    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Tony Romo, Terrell Owens, Jason Witten, Brian Westbrook, Kevin Curtis.
  • Sit Em: Julius Jones, Marion Barber.

    Prediction: Eagles 27, Cowboys 24
    Eagles +3.5 (2 Units - Money Pick) -- Incorrect; -$220
    Over 46.5 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Cowboys 38, Eagles 17.

    Baltimore Ravens (4-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2)
    Line: Steelers by 9. Total: 36.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 8): Steelers -6.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 8): Steelers -7.
    Monday, 8:30 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Steelers.
    Injuries: RAVENS: OUT: QB Steve McNair*, OT Jonathan Ogden, DE/OLB Trevor Pryce, LB Dan Cody.

    No Monday Night Dissertation. Check the Colts-Patriots game for that. Instead, you can look at my Week 9 Look-Alike Pictures featuring Chad Johnson.

    No dissertation needed here because the Steelers are favored by a lot - and they should win by a similar margin. Last year, the Ravens demolished the Steelers in two meetings by a combined score of 58-7. I saw both contests, and it was actually pretty disturbing to watch. I had to turn off the game in both instances. Baltimore's offensive and defensive lines pushed Pittsburgh's around as if they were little children. The Ravens consequently could not be stopped from scoring and harassing an injured Ben Roethlisberger.

    Things have changed pretty quickly. The Ravens' offensive line is no longer dominant. Last year's starting tackles, Jonathan Ogden and Tony Pashos, are gone. So is guard Edwin Mulitalo. I seriously doubt Baltimore can keep Pittsburgh's blood-thirsty front seven out of the backfield. The Ravens' quarterbacking is also much worse. Steve McNair has been very mediocre this season, while Kyle Boller is... well, Kyle Boller.

    Was Adalius Thomas that important to Baltimore's stop unit? If not, what happened to it? Why do they have only 15 sacks? How are the Cardinals and Browns scoring in the mid-20s against them? If a rookie quarterback (Kellen Clemens) can torch Baltimore's secondary, I think Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes and Heath Miller should be pretty successful.

    I just gave you a bunch of matchups, but no strong edges. Here's one: The Ravens are overrated. They played the 2-5 Bengals, 1-7 Jets, Cardinals, Browns, 2-5 49ers, 0-8 Rams and Bills. They covered only one of those games. If Baltimore can't handle the lower half of the league, how can it possibly hang with the vengeful Steelers? Nine seems like a lot of points for a divisional rivalry, but keep in mind the oddsmaker moved the spread up two points to compensate for early action on Pittsburgh. And besides, of the Steelers' previous three victories over Baltimore at home, two were by double digits.

    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    Big divisional rivalry. No psychological edge as both teams hate each other with a passion.

    The Vegas. Edge: None.
    The Ravens have looked like garbage recently, so the Steelers will undoubtedly receive tons of action.
  • Percentage of money on Pittsburgh: 61% (140,000 bets)

    The Trends. Edge: Ravens.
  • Bye Bye: Brian Billick is 6-2 ATS off a bye.
  • History: Home Team has won 8 of the last 9 meetings.
  • Divisional Dog of Seven: Current coaches are 44-33 ATS as divisional dogs of 7+ since 2002 (Brian Billick 2-1).
  • Ravens are 19-8 ATS in November.
  • Ravens are 9-15 ATS as an underdog the previous 24 instances.
  • Steelers are 5-8 ATS in November home games since 2000.
  • Ben Roethlisberger is 39-13 as a starter (33-19 ATS).
  • Opening Line: Steelers -7.5.
  • Opening Total: 37.
  • Weather: Partly cloudy, 50 degrees. Mild wind, 13 mph.

    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Heath Miller.
  • Sit Em: Willis McGahee, Ravens Defense.

    Prediction: Steelers 27, Ravens 6
    Steelers -9 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Under 36 (2 Units) -- Incorrect; -$220
    Steelers 38, Ravens 7.

    Prop/Teaser/Parlay Picks
    A list of some of my favorite team/player prop picks this week
    (Offense & defensive ROY picks to be counted whenver winners are announced.) Picks carried over on a week-to-week basis will be in black.

  • Anti-Public Parlay: Jets +4, Chiefs -2, Panthers +4, Bills +1, Vikings +7, Patriots -6, Eagles +3 (.5 Units to win 51.7) -- Incorrect; -$50
  • Teaser: - Chargers PK & Patriots +1 (2 Units) -- Incorrect; -$240
  • Live Dog: - Jets +170 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$100
  • Live Dog: - Cardinals +170 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$100
  • Live Dog: - Jaguars +165 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$100
  • Live Dog: - Eagles +165 (1 Unit)
  • Offensive Rookie of the Year: Marshawn Lynch +500 - Lynch will be the opening-day starter for the Bills and will have the luxury of running behind a huge offensive line. Running backs make the quickest transition into the NFL, and Lynch is the only rookie who's guaranteed a starting gig. (1 Unit)
  • Offensive Rookie of the Year: Field +700 - James Jones? Jacoby Jones? Who knows, Marques Colston came out of nowhere last year. (1 Unit)
  • Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jamaal Anderson +1400 - Unlike Gaines Adams, Jamaal Anderson will be starting on Day 1. With teams concerned about John Abraham, Anderson seems like he could be poised for a double digit-sack campaign. (1 Unit)
  • Odds to Win Super Bowl: Patriots 5/2 - Not great odds, but they'll get the job done. (1 Unit)
  • Odds to Win Super Bowl: Steelers 22/1 - Getting a great deal here. (.5 Units)
  • Regular Season Wins: Chiefs Under 7.5 -155 - Larry Johnson will get hurt, the defense will suck and Herm Edwards will lose his mind. (1.5 Units)
  • Regular Season Wins: Dolphins Under 7 -125 - I've talked about the Dolphins plenty of times already. (1.5 Units)
  • Regular Season Wins: Steelers Over 9 -105 - The Steelers went 8-8 with a damaged Ben Roethlisberger. No way they win less than 10 this season. (1.5 Units)
  • Regular Season Wins: Giants Under 8 -165 - No way they get to 8-8 this year. (1.5 Units)
  • Player Prop: Larry Johnson Under 1,700 Total Rushing Yards - Since Eric Dickerson, no running back who has carried the ball 385 or more times has finished in the top 10 in rushing. Johnson had 416 carries, the most in the history of the NFL. (2 Units)
  • Player Prop: Wes Welker Over 675 Total Receiving Yards - Wes Welker has been Tom Brady's new go-to-guy in training camp and preseason. I'm expecting a big year from him. (2 Units)
  • More prop picks will be listed here.

    Second-Half Bets
    Check back at halftime to see if I have any plays posted.

  • Ravens PK +115

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    Last Week's NFL Picks Against The Spread (Week 20, 2016): 0-2 (-$750)
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    Last Week Over-Under (Week 20, 2016): 1-1 ($0)
    Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 20, 2016): -$200

    2016 NFL Picks of the Month: 5-1, 83.3% (+$2,780)

    2016 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 147-127-10, 53.6% (+$955)
    2016 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 42-35-3, 54.5% (+$475)
    2016 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 21-22-5, 48.8% (-$1,465)
    2016 Season Over-Under: 123-140-1, 46.8% (+$95)
    2016 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$995

    1999 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 27-41-3 (39.7%)
    2000 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 128-123-8 (51.0%)
    2001 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 127-122-7 (51.0%)
    2002 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 123-136-7 (47.5%)
    2003 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 146-126-8 (53.7%)
    2004 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 157-123-8 (56.1%)
    2005 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 156-126-11 (55.3%)
    2006 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 151-135-9 (52.8%)
    2007 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 162-135-10, 54.5% (+$2,550)
    2008 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 148-140-7, 51.4% (+$2,620)
    2009 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 151-124-9, 54.9% (+$3,370)
    2010 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 144-131-8, 52.4% (+$6,080)
    2011 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 137-133-12, 50.7% (-$1,925)
    2012 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 130-145-8, 47.3% (-$5,760)
    2013 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 144-131-8, 52.4% (+$5,580)
    2014 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 143-133-7, 51.8% (-$1,885)
    2015 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 134-138-12, 49.3% (-$2,360)

    2002 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 41-49-2 (45.6%)
    2003 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 52-51-2 (50.5%)
    2004 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 65-44-3 (59.6%)
    2005 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 77-61-1 (55.8%)
    2006 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 65-61-4 (51.6%)
    2007 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 83-59-5, 58.5% (+$4,110)
    2008 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 44-57-3, 43.6% (-$3,510)
    2009 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 49-35-3, 58.3% (+$2,260)
    2010 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 51-38-4, 57.3% (+$3,180)
    2011 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 44-51-3, 46.3% (-$2,715)
    2012 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 45-50-2, 47.4% (-$2,130)
    2013 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 38-42, 47.5% (-$2,890)
    2015 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 47-44-1, 51.6% (-$820)

    2002 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 11-12 (47.8%)
    2003 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 16-13-1 (55.2%)
    2004 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 18-11 (62.1%)
    2005 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 25-22-1 (53.2%)
    2006 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 21-29-1 (42.0%)
    2007 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 35-30-2, 53.8% (+$420)
    2008 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 39-26-2, 60.0% (+$4,055)
    2009 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 29-26, 52.7% (+$330)
    2010 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 32-22, 59.3% (+$4,790)
    2011 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 14-14, 50.0% (-$1,260)
    2012 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 14-21, 40.0% (-$3,650)
    2013 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-9-3, 65.4% (+$2,970)
    2015 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-16-2, 51.5% (-$1,120)

    2001 Season Over-Under: 3-2 (60.0%)
    2002 Season Over-Under: 121-91-3 (57.1%)
    2003 Season Over-Under: 126-132-2 (48.8%)
    2004 Season Over-Under: 139-124-4 (52.9%)
    2005 Season Over-Under: 117-145-4 (44.7%)
    2006 Season Over-Under: 129-132-5 (49.4%)
    2007 Season Over-Under: 136-145-3, 48.4% (-$1,900)
    2008 Season Over-Under: 137-125-6, 52.3% (+$860)
    2009 Season Over-Under: 128-135-4, 48.7% (-$3,195)
    2010 Season Over-Under: 128-135-5, 48.7% (-$5)
    2011 Season Over-Under: 131-131-5, 50.0% (+$135)
    2012 Season Over-Under: 125-121-5, 50.8% (+$30)
    2013 Season Over-Under: 132-130-5, 50.4% (-$340)
    2015 Season Over-Under: 143-119-5, 54.6% ($0)

    2007 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$1,035
    2008 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$1,775
    2009 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$865
    2010 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$200
    2011 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$590
    2012 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$1,685
    2013 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$2,245
    2015 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$855

    2006 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3 (50%)
    2007 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$400)
    2008 NFL Picks of the Month: 6-1, 85.7% (+$3,720)
    2009 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$640)
    2010 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,810)
    2011 NFL Picks of the Month: 5-2, 71.4% (+$1,870)
    2012 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$560)
    2013 NFL Picks of the Month: 6-0, 100% (+$3,900)
    2014 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,350)
    2015 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$100)

    Career NFL Picks Against The Spread: 2,439-2,243-141, 52.1% (+$9,115)
    Career 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 785-703-37 (52.8%)
    Career 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 329-292-18 (53.0%)
    Career Over-Under: 1,945-1,903-54 (50.4%)
    Career Second-Half NFL Picks: 22-15-1 (61.1%)
    Career NFL Picks of the Month: 36-22 (62.1%)

    My Team-by-Team ATS Record
    This section shows how well I do when picking each team this year. The purpose is to see how well I read each team. Pushes are not displayed. Winning/losing streak in parentheses.

    Cowboys: 9-8 (2014-15: 14-19)
    Bears: 5-10 (2014-15: 14-17)
    Bucs: 8-8 (2014-15: 18-14)
    49ers: 11-5 (2014-15: 21-10)
    Eagles: 7-9 (2014-15: 16-16)
    Lions: 7-9 (2014-15: 19-13)
    Falcons: 11-7 (2014-15: 17-15)
    Cardinals: 10-6 (2014-15: 14-21)
    Giants: 8-7 (2014-15: 14-17)
    Packers: 11-6 (2014-15: 20-15)
    Panthers: 11-4 (2014-15: 15-22)
    Rams: 8-7 (2014-15: 16-15)
    Redskins: 6-10 (2014-15: 20-13)
    Vikings: 8-8 (2014-15: 20-13)
    Saints: 12-4 (2014-15: 13-17)
    Seahawks: 11-7 (2014-15: 16-19)
    Bills: 10-6 (2014-15: 14-15)
    Bengals: 3-12 (2014-15: 13-19)
    Colts: 7-8 (2014-15: 14-18)
    Broncos: 6-10 (2014-15: 18-13)
    Dolphins: 10-6 (2014-15: 18-13)
    Browns: 5-9 (2014-15: 16-13)
    Jaguars: 6-9 (2014-15: 12-19)
    Chargers: 8-8 (2014-15: 17-15)
    Jets: 7-7 (2014-15: 17-14)
    Ravens: 6-8 (2014-15: 17-15)
    Texans: 11-6 (2014-15: 12-20)
    Chiefs: 11-6 (2014-15: 18-15)
    Patriots: 8-9 (2014-15: 22-14)
    Steelers: 10-8 (2014-15: 18-14)
    Titans: 10-5 (2014-15: 13-15)
    Raiders: 9-8 (2014-15: 14-18)
    Divisional: 44-47 (2011-15: 222-225)
    2x Game Edge: 17-10 (2011-15: 86-97)
    2x Psych Edge: 43-32 (2011-15: 151-133)
    2x Vegas Edge: 23-32 (2011-15: 218-223)
    2x Trend Edge: 42-31 (2011-15: 139-128)
    Double Edge: 18-14 (2011-15: 59-61)
    Triple Edge: 3-0 (2011-15: 3-3)
    Quad Edge: 0-0 (2011-15: 0-0)

    2003 Preseason: 3 | 4 | 5
    2003 Season: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 20 | XXXVIII
    2004 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
    2004 Season: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | XXXIX
    2005 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
    2005 Season: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | XL
    2006 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
    2006 Season: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | XLI
    2007 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
    2007 Season: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | XLII |
    2008 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
    2008 Season: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | XLIII |
    2009 Season: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | XLIV |
    2010 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
    2010 Season: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | XLV |
    2011 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
    2011 Season: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | XLVI |
    2012 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
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    2014 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
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    2015 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
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    2016 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
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    by WelshBear2
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